Sunderland’s new bridge and its stunning cultural quarter received the Royal seal of approval, after a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge this week.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially opened Sunderland’s new creative hub, The Fire Station, which houses a dance studio, drama studio, a heritage centre and popular bar and bistro, the Engine Room.
They watched workshops and performances from some of the groups that will use The Fire Station to perfect their dance moves, as well as meeting a range of different community and youth groups.
The Fire Station is phase two of the MAC Trust’s plans to create a £10million cultural quarter in the city centre. Phase one was the acquisition and restoration of the Edwardian Dun Cow and The Peacock pubs.
The third phase involves building a 450-seater auditorium between the Dun Cow and The Fire Station. Work on the auditorium is due to start within months.
Their Royal Highnesses were then whisked across to the city’s stunning new landmark, the Northern Spire, where they were introduced to some of the workers involved in the bridge’s three year construction, before making their wave over crossing.
The £117.6m road bridge, which is the biggest civil engineering project in the North East, is on track to open this Spring. On completion, around 2,000 people will have worked on the project, putting in about 900,000 man-hours.
With its striking 105m A-frame central pylon, which is taller than Big Ben’s clock tower and twice as high as Nelson’s Column, and its impressive 28 cable stays, it is already a major landmark on the city’s skyline.
Part of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, it will link the International Advanced Manufacturing Park on the A19, which is being developed as an internationally-recognised destination for advanced manufacturing, with Sunderland city centre and the Port of Sunderland. It will also reduce congestion around the city, improve journey times, and be a source of pride and inspiration for Sunderland’s future generations.
The eyes of the nation were on the city for what was an incredible day, and a real celebration of the talent and ambition that exists in Sunderland. A fantastic showcase of our fast-changing city.